Protect Your IoT Smart Devices
Smart gadgets at home are highly convenient, stylish, and packed with features that make our lives a lot easier. Unfortunately, it is the convenience of these gadgets that make them the most vulnerable to security threats as well. In this article, we will give you the tips to need to protect your IoT Smart Devices.
The Rise of IoT Smart Devices for Personal Use
Consider for a moment what makes IoT smart devices smart. What is the difference between a regular thermostat and a smart thermostat that costs about twice as much?
The answer is web-connectivity. The smart home speakers, smart fridges, and smart home alarm systems are “smart” because these devices are connected to the net. The gadgets have software that allows you to sync your smart speaker to your computer or smartphone. Some devices, like voice-activated speakers, are also packed with AI programs like Alexa or Siri that you can “talk” with.
Together, these web-connected gadgets intended for personal use make up the “internet of things,” a collective term that’s been on the news lately. The IoT embodies the latest in consumer product innovation. However, the IoT is also highly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Therein lies the danger in keeping smart devices at home unprotected.
Why You Should Worry about the Security of Wireless Devices You Use
Most users are concerned about privacy issues that spring up because of smart gadgets. Recently, Amazon raised eyebrows because an Echo device recorded a user’s private conversation and sent it to a randomly chosen number on their contact list. Sometimes unexpected glitches like this can snowball into serious cyber-security issues as well.
Wireless devices are uniquely vulnerable to hacking attempts mainly because of how these gadgets are built. If a device is wireless, that means it’s using a connection of some sort at all times to communicate with a computer or a smartphone. Consider, for example, a wireless keyboard that might be connected to your computer. Whether it’s using a Bluetooth connection or a Wi-Fi receiver, the connection can be vulnerable to hacking.
It might not occur to you that the smart light bulb in your home poses a cybersecurity threat. Nearly all IoT devices gather data that hackers could potentially use. But privacy is not the major concern. Even the seemingly harmless smart light bulb in your home can be used in infamous DDoS attacks. Such attacks are carried out by staging traffic that overwhelms a service or a website, causing it to crash. Hackers can use the signals emitted by your smart gadgets to create faux traffic, which is where the danger lies.
How to Protect Your IoT Smart Devices?
Don’t let cybersecurity concerns keep you from using smart devices that you make life more convenient. There are several steps that even non-tech oriented people can take to secure IoT gadgets against cyber attacks. Here they are:
Change Default Passwords
Did your wireless router or smart speaker system come with default factory passwords installed? Then you absolutely should change these. Default passwords are saved in the operating system of a gadget. Meaning that if a hacker can breach a device, they can easily get access to this password. Therefore, one of the most crucial things IoT users should do is to change their default password.
Avoid Purchasing Devices Known to be Vulnerable
Recent reports by security experts have revealed that some non-Bluetooth mice and keyboards have design flaws that made the gadgets hackable. It’s important to know that only some, mostly old, models were affected by the security problem. If you know a certain smart gadget brand or model to be vulnerable in this manner, avoid purchasing it.
You don’t have to spend a fortune buying non-hackable wireless devices, especially external computer gadgets like mice and keyboards. For example, if you want a great external keyboard for gaming, you can certainly find affordable options not known to be affected by security problems, as long as you are willing to do some research.
If you are using the devices with your phone or even on the computer, make sure the driver software is in its latest version. Manufacturers often update driver software with security patches. Therefore, don’t forget to install all the updates. The best thing to do is to enable automatic software updates for your smart gadgets.
Turn The Devices Off
Smart devices and IoT gadgets are always on since we use them regularly. For example, if you used a smart fridge, would you turn it off? Security experts say that you should. When a gadget like a wireless router is always on, hackers can use this mode to sneak into the device. Therefore, occasionally turning off the gadget could actually protect you.
Turn off IoT gadgets when you don’t really need to use them. For example, when heading out of your home, you don’t need to keep the router on. Plugging off is not just good for your health, it’s important to security too.
Install Anti-Malware Software
Make sure your computer, smartphone, and wireless home router has anti-malware protection. You can externally download an anti-virus program if the devices originally didn’t come with one. Enable firewalls on your router and computer too. Most routers, phones, and computers these days have some level of anti-malware protection. But it’s important to be vigilant, especially if your gadgets are old.
Replace Ageing Routers
Is the wireless router you use to connect to a multitude of smart gadgets at home older than five years? Then it might be time to replace it, solely for security purposes. Newer routers come with better protection, verification, and encryption methods compared to older models. If you want to strengthen your home network with the latest security features, then having a new wireless router is a must.
In addition to keeping your devices safe using the above methods, don’t forget to back up data on your computer and other devices with data storage capabilities. If a security threat does emerge, a full system restore might be necessary. And you will need a backup image to restore the system back to normal.
In conclusion, most users assume that IoT Smart devices are largely safe compared to computers. The reality is that IoT Smart devices can be highly vulnerable to cyber threats because of their wireless nature. Therefore, users must actively protect devices while understanding the risk their web-connected devices face.